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Written by: Ayushi Arya (Intern)
Edited by: Anubhav Yadav (Content Head & Developer)

On Thursday 13 May, the Karnataka High Court said that not giving a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine is the violation of Fundamental Rights under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

BACKGROUND

The High Court bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Arvind Kumar stated that besides the violation of fundamental rights under Article 21, if they are made to take the first dose again it will be a national waste of resources. So, once a dose is due it is the duty of the state and central government to provide the second dose. The Court also said that the state government should go before the public and tell people the truth about the availability of vaccines in the state and should stop making incompatible statements to the public.

The court researched that the state government has a total stock of 12,32,960 doses of vaccines left. On 11th May, the court noted that 26 lakh recipients need second doses and with addition of around 5 lakh frontline workers, a total of 31 lakh recipients require second dose of vaccine. The Court requested the central government to fill the gap in the insufficiency of vaccines. Government should issue a mandatory direction to make sure that all those persons to whom the second dose is due get the second dose.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati guaranteed the Court that the Government of India made every attempt to make sure that people who have got the first dose of vaccine are given the second dose within a specified time period. ASG Bhati also submitted the three letters (written by the central government to all states for efficient use of vaccines) in front of the bench of the High Court. As per the letter, state governments were informed and advised to use assigned vaccines provided by the central government in the ratio of 70:30, for second dose and first dose respectively. She also informed the Court that a specialist body of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation in India (NTAGI) is researching what happens if timelines for getting a second dose are not followed. The report of the specialist committee is expected in a few days. As of present day, the second dose of covaxin is recommended after 4 to 6 weeks while covishield is recommended after 6 to 8 weeks of the first dose.

ASG Bhati said that the Right to Health is an integral part of Article 21 of the Constitution of India; central government came out with the policy of vaccination. If those who have taken the first dose as per current timeline.
However, ASG stated that a decision on allotment of vaccines in the second of May will be taken on 14 th May. She suggested that the state government should instantly survey the entire district and collect data of the person to whom the second dose is due in excel sheets. The central government will make every possible way to fill this gap.

After all the arguments the Court also remarked that it is completely necessary for the state government to obey the guidelines issued by the central government, and also mentioned that it is mandatory for the state government to have a rational and fair method for giving a second dose.

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